Eye-catching and tasty ideas for red, white, and blue food on July 4

By Evan Kleiman

Stacey Mei Yan Fong’s stars and stripes pie is a perfect Independance Day dessert. Photo by Alanna Hale.

The Fourth of July is around the corner, and if you don’t have a flag pole or a porch to display bunting, why not channel your love of country into the food over the holiday? Red, white and blue food displays can be striking, but we also need them to be delicious and not overly gimmicky. 

I’ll say that finding red and white food that are naturally colored is a lot easier than the color blue. Basically the only really natural blue food is blueberries. Blackberries are, well, black and their juices run purple. So if you’re really into the theme, you may have to dip into the less natural for your three-color chia pudding or jello extravaganza. 

A raw strawberry-blueberry pie is an easy holiday dessert. Photo by Evan Kleiman.

For savory ideas, I propose a simple caprese salad, the Italian salad of red tomatoes and white mozzarella. Now here’s the twist. If you can find indigo or indigo rose tomatoes at a farmers market, you can add them to the salad. The shoulders are dark navy blue that transitions into a brownish red and are very high in antioxidants and flavor. I have them in my garden now. You could even make tostadas with blue corn tortillas and top them with the tomato salad. 

Often during the summer, blue varieties of potatoes will also show up. They are terrific to use in a vinaigrette-dressed potato salad so the color isn’t obscured. Just like the blue tomatoes, blue potatoes are higher in antioxidants. This comes from the anthocyanins that create the blue pigmentation, which are the same compound that creates the blue in some oyster mushrooms.

Another suggestion is to create a red, white, and blue cheese and fruit board. Choose cheeses that have a very white blooming rind, as well as those from goat and sheep milk, which tend to be less buttery in color. Then simply dress the board with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and if you want to push the color wheel, some cherries. 

That’s pretty much it for savory food unless you want to use dyes to color your food. 

But desserts are easy. Whipped cream and meringue are white and the aforementioned blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and rhubarb are blue and red. I say, make a pie or two and a pavlova. The white of the meringue of a pavlova sets off particularly well against the colors of mixed berries and a plume of whipped cream. But if you want to be really traditional, make a pie. For the Fourth, I go two ways. One is to make separate blueberry and strawberry pies and serve them together with whipped cream. But my favorite food salute to the nation is this mixed raw strawberry and blueberry pie. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to make a traditional pie crust. For raw pies, I actually prefer a crumb crust. I like using ‘Nilla wafers for this pie. The only cooking you do is creating the glaze that makes the fruit look fantastic.

Stacey Mei Yan Fong, author of a new cookbook “50 Pies, Fifty States,” has a stars and stripes pie that is perfect for the holiday.